Jack Monroe is a Tory cabinet’s nightmare – a coherent single mother who lived in abject poverty with her small son, and found an enthusiastic following for her blog about the indignities of rent hikes, food banks and pawning her possessions to feed her child. She then won a book contract for a collection of recipes compiled while on a food budget of £10 a week. Most will be familiar to anyone whose parents grew up during the war – leftovers prevail – but there are surprises such as Spanish chicken, baba ghanoush, chickpea falafels and ‘not meatballs’, which makes full use of an aubergine.

Not Meatballs:

Serves 2

1 aubergine, diced into chunks
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped black olives
3 tbsp oil
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 slice of bread
A handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
One tin tomatoes (optional)

Put a tablespoon of the oil in a pan and cook the aubergine, onion, garlic, chilli and olives on a medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add the lemon zest and juice and, once the aubergines are soft, tip into a bowl.

Grate in the bread, add the basil and mix well.

Shape the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and fry in the remaining oil until browned all over.

Heat the tomatoes to serve as a sauce.

*A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe Michael Joseph, £12.99

By Carolyn Hart. Published in The Telegraph, 13 March 2014.

Categories: Blog, NEWS, Recipes & Food


  1. A really delicious-sounding recipe and one I am bound to try on vegetarian friends. Anybody who can give tories nightmares is ok with me!

  2. Jack
    I wonder if these would have a better consistency if the aubergine was grated and also if this would be a good recipe to use with courgette instead. Sounds like a wonderful recipe, all the same! : )

  3. Jacks book is great,I’m an OAP living on benefits this is the first cookbook that I can afford to use .Thank you Jack

  4. Thanks from another OAP on the government’s basic single person pension, which has NOT risen enough to keep up with the rise in electricity prices, let alone food! This book should be distributed free to every pensioner in the country – more of the same please. And any hard up pensioner wanting cheap and easy recipes while we’re waiting for Jack’s next book might find it worth studying some of Rose Elliot’s veggie books as well.

    • Absolutely agree! Rose Elliot’s Cheap and Easy was my bible when I was first married 🙂

  5. Congratulations Jack! Tory press support..whatever next. Your persistence has been your recipe for success.

  6. What an unpleasantly patronising remark about ‘familiar to anyone with wartime parents’. Typical Telegraph snideness.

    • Hmmm. I must have read it the wrong way . I didn’t find it patronising – unpleasant redundant – and my parents were young adults in World War2. If Jack’s book is all about common-sense frugal cooking – then that is what people were cooking then also. Growing up in the 50’s I ate many shepherd’s/cottage pies, and best of all was a plate of Scouse on a Tuesday evening – the final dregs of a cheap joint of lamb which in those days was cheaper than beef or chicken, and had lasted the four of us three dinners. The whole ‘make do and mend’ and ‘use it up’ ethos which abounded then sings through Jack’s recipes, and I don’t feel patronised at all. Though I have no truck with the Telegraph I have to say.

      • There are a lot of differences between now and the 1940s/50s though – some things are cheaper in real terms or more available in Britain that they were then (especially given there was rationing back then), other things could be more expensive in real terms or be harder to find – particularly if they’ve gone out of fashion – or been resurrected as a gourmet food stuff.

        You probably couldn’t get a kilo of value pasta or rice, say, for the 1950s equivalent of 40-45p or a tin of potatoes for the equivalent of 10p. And didn’t meat generally cost a lot more in real terms/as a proportion of income than now (though rent was cheaper).

  7. We made Gigantes Plaki last week- one can of butter beans, tomatoes, 1/2 pack of spaghetti, 1/2 pack of Haloumi (instead of Feta), sprinkle of herbs, 2 small onions and 2 garlic cloves made enough for four meals over two days.

    And it tasted like Summer.

  8. Jack, got your book on my kindle fire it if excellent, my son,30, won’t eat anything in a meal unless it cotains meat, plenty in this book to keep him happy.

  9. My only problem is the price of the book! Fortunately I managed to get it cheaper from the Book People – it still cost almost my total food budget for the week.

    • I think the book is great, and I bought 3 copies in Sainsburys for £6.50 or so, one for me, 2 for the food bank. I hope they get used.

  10. And there was me thinking that Jack would be a Tory ‘Dream’: “Unemployed girl pulls herself up by bootstraps, gives to charity, does the ‘Big Society’ thing and gets nice middle class job. What a good egg!” So is this not what goes on in the mind of a Tory? I thought I had those Tories worked out…guess not! Confused.

    Thanks for all your hard work in tackling head-on the stigma and shame of poverty in this country. Your bravery in this is very cheering. I want to add my voice to the very many of your supporters and say “Don’t let ‘them’ dishearten you” 😀

  11. I’ve just ordered this book using money I was given for my birthday. I’m excited to start using it. I’m a single mum to a 2yr old and I’m on benefits ATM. It’s a real struggle and I often forfeit meals so he gets all the food he needs. The government should be ashamed at what they are doing to people on the bread line. This lady is an inspiration already!

  12. I just bought your cookbook today (£9.90 in Waterstones if anyone is interested). I am so excited to try the recipes. I hope this is the first of many books for you Jack 🙂

  13. My copy of your book came today, it looks amazing and cant wait to make more of your recipes, every recipe so far has been devoured with speed. Thank you jack. Xx

  14. I’ve been reading recipes and comments on the website for a while and bought the book as soon as I saw it in Sainsbury’s. We’re lucky enough not to be on a tight budget but as a working mum I love how the recipes are super tasty, but quick to cook and use food I have in the fresh veg drawer, cupboard or freezer. So far we’ve had the aubergine curry, feisty soup, carrot and coriander (added a bit of harissa for a kick), hummus and the saag aloo (twice). Loved them all! Also agree with most of the political comments.

  15. To those who are yet to get the cook book, they have it on Amazon for £6.49 currently. I got it for my birthday and have already made a fair few of the recipes. Absolutely brilliant price wise and also so delicious!

  16. Love your book borrowed it and some others from the library and I haven’t even looked at the others. Made the frozen yogurt done one with the peanut butter and added 2 tbsp of jam yum yum can’t wait to try the rest

  17. Got the book yesterday, made the saag aloo today even though I didn’t have enough spinach and had to use real spud. It was lovely. Normally I would only gave a go if I have exactly the right ingredients but your approach inspired me to just go for it. Because the spuds took longer than tinned ones the spinach was crispy! But most of us still loved it, like crispy seaweed but tastier. Looking forward to converting my family to beans and pulses over the next year.

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